WHEN I AM AMONG PEOPLE, AFTER A WHILE I WANT TO BE ALONE. WHEN I AM ALONE, AFTER A WHILE I WANT TO BE AMONG PEOPLE. SO I CANNOT ENJOY ONE OR THE OTHER FULLY. SHOULD I LIVE ON THE INSIDE OR ON THE OUTSIDE?
Robert, this is one of the most fundamental questions every human being has to encounter; it is part of the challenge that life presents to us. The mind functions in duality; it is like a pendulum. When the pendulum moves towards the right, you see it moving towards the right, but at the very same time it is gathering momentum to go to the left. When it is moving towards the left it is gathering momentum to go to the right. This inner duality in the pendulum represents your mind.
The mind is a pendulum; hence, when you are alone you cannot enjoy aloneness, you start gathering momentum to be with people, and as you start thinking of people, aloneness turns into loneliness.
Aloneness is tremendously beautiful; it is like a sunlit peak, something beyond the clouds. But loneliness is ugly; it is a dark hole.
If you cannot enjoy aloneness everything goes upside down: the peak becomes the valley, the light becomes darkness. You are bored, you don’t know what to do with yourself; you feel empty, and you want to stuff yourself with something — either with people or with food or with a movie. These are all different ways not to feel lonely. And when you are with people, the same will happen again from the other end. When you are with people you feel interfered with, trespassed upon, because others start encroaching on your space, they destroy your freedom. So being with others is no longer love; it becomes a bondage. And one hates bondage — one wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible. It is a prison; you start feeling suffocated. Even with the person you think you love, you start feeling fed up. You cannot enjoy love because suddenly you realize that to be alone is beautiful, because now you can see that aloneness is freedom. But when you are alone you see love as joy!
This is the dichotomy of the mind. It exists in every dimension. If you are poor you hanker to be rich; this is a well-known fact. But the other side has not been recognized: everybody knows the beggar wants to be the emperor, but have you not watched Mahavira renouncing his kingdom, Buddha escaping from his marble palaces? What is that? It is the same phenomenon! The poor man wants to be rich, and the rich man wants to be poor. And when Buddha started initiating disciples he called them BHIKKHUS. The word “bhikkhu” means beggar.
Alexander the Great, at the last moment of his life, realized that he had wasted his life in accumulating unnecessary, nonessential things, and now death would take everything away. Suddenly he remembered the great Greek mystic Diogenes whom he had met just a year before. Diogenes was naked and lived without any possessions, and Alexander had felt tremendously infatuated with him. He had told Diogenes exactly this, that “If I am to come back to the world I will ask God to make me Diogenes next time, and not Alexander.”This is the same dichotomy; there is no difference. When you are a child you want to be older, and when you are older you start thinking how beautiful were the days when you were a child. Everybody as he grows older starts fantasizing about his childhood; he starts decorating it in every possible way. And when he was a child he was in a hurry to grow up. When you are alive you think of the life that is after death. People come to me and say, “Tell us something about what happens after death.” And I am always intrigued with their question. Rather than answering them, I ask them, “First tell me what happens before death!” Nobody seems to be interested in that — what happens before death; everybody is interested in what happens after death. And if you meet a ghost, it is absolutely certain he will tell you, “I am suffering very badly. I missed my life, now I am hankering for it. I would like to have the body again, the mind again, to have all the senses again.”
Different aspects, but the problem is the same:
you hanker for the opposite because the grass looks greener — not your own grass but the grass beyond the fence in the neighbor’s garden. It always looks greener. It is a simple phenomenon: whatsoever you have loses meaning — the moment you have it, it loses meaning — whatsoever you have not becomes immensely significant. The mind hankers for that which it has not got, and the mind gets bored with whatsoever it has got. This is the way the mind functions: its whole interest is in that which you have not got. Hence, Robert, your question is significant and it has tortured humanity since the very beginning. And people have been choosing, just as you are asking: “Should I live on the inside or on the outside?”Wherever you live you will be in trouble. If you live on the outside, the inside will function like a magnet. If you live on the inside, the outside will go on sending invitations to you: “Come out! It is a beautiful morning. The flowers are blossoming and the air is fragrant,” or, “It is a tremendously ecstatic sunset. Look, the starry night….” And if you are outside you will continuously worry, “What is inside me? Who am I? What is this consciousness?”
Science has become focused on the outside; religion has become focused on the inside. Both are lopsided, because the inside and the outside are not two separate things, they are inseparably one. To separate them is arbitrary, artificial.In the past the monks decided to be alone because they saw the misery of love, they saw that to be with someone is to suffer. What Jean-Paul Sartre said in this century, the monks all over the world — Christian, Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist, Mohammedan — have known all along; it is one of the most ancient experiences. Jean-Paul Sartre is not original at all; he looks original because nobody has said it in exactly that way. Jean-Paul Sartre says, “The other is hell” — and this is the experience of all the monks, of all the mahatmas, of all the saints. Whatsoever denomination they belong to does not matter; on one point they all agree: “The other is hell — escape from the other!”
They escaped to the Himalayan caves, they escaped to the monasteries, they escaped from the world — they were really escaping from the other. But were they happy in their monasteries, in their caves? That question has not been raised. It has to be raised. Were they blissful? Maybe they were more silent than you are — but silence is not bliss, silence is not a song. Silence has no warmth; it can be cold and dead. And it WAS cold and dead. Your so-called monks have lived in such a suicidal way that they have become living corpses. They chose half of life, and whenever you chose half you will be in trouble, because what are you going to do with the other half? You will remain only fragmentary, and the other half will take its revenge.The remainder of humanity has chosen to live in the world, and it is very rare to find a person in the world who does not feel once in a while the desire to escape from all this. The world is too much; it is anxiety, anguish; it is nothing but suffering.
Psychologists say that the average person thinks at least four times in his life of committing suicide — at least! Why do people think of committing suicide? And not only do people think of it, many commit suicide. That’s also a way of escaping from the world, escaping totally, because if you go to a monastery you can come back. You know it yourself: if you go to the Himalayas, who can prevent you? — you can come back again.Suicide seems to be irreversible. Suicide is a total renunciation of life, and what you have called the renunciation of life is nothing but slow suicide, suicide in installments — the American way, part by part!
My own observation is that both extremes have been wrong, and both have created a very ugly situation. There is no need to choose; we have to live both. Of course it is easier to be silent in a cave, but that silence will not give you a dance, and without a dance you will remain dead. If you are in the world it will give you a song, but the song will not have any depth; it will be superficial, formal.
One needs silence in the heart, and yet a silence which is not cold but warm, a silence which can sing and dance. When silence and song meet, the man is whole. When you are capable of moving between the inner and the outer easily, just as you move in and out of your house…in the same way as when it is too cold in the morning you simply move out of the house into the sun. You enjoy the warmth of the sun, and when it becomes too hot you move inside. There is no problem in it — it is YOUR house! The inner is as much yours as the outer, and to be capable of moving from the inner to the outer and vice versa, in a flexible way, creates the whole man. And I call the WHOLE man the holy man. My sannyasins have to be whole.
Robert, you are not yet a sannyasin. If you are really interested in solving this problem, my sannyas is the only way to solve it, because I teach flexibility. All the old ideas are rigid: “Either be extrovert or be introvert” — but both are pathological…The people who are living extrovertly will remain interested in the inner world, and the people who are living introvertly will remain interested in the extrovert world, and they will both be torn apart. That creates anguish, strain. Robert, my own suggestion is to live a relaxed life. It is beautiful to be alone, it is also beautiful to be in love, to be with people. And both are complementary, not contradictory. When you are enjoying others, enjoy, and enjoy to the full; there is no need to bother about aloneness. And when you are fed up with others, then move into aloneness and enjoy it to the full. Don’t try to choose — if you try to choose you will be in difficulty. Every choice is going to create a division in you, a kind of split in you. Why choose? When you can have both, why have one? And it is a very natural process. It is just like when you are hungry you eat, and when you are full you stop eating. You don’t start saying, “What should I choose? Should I always remain hungry or should I eat continuously?” When you are hungry, eat, and when you are full, stop eating and forget all about it; there are a thousand and one other things to do. There is no need to go on a fast, and there is no need to go on stuffing yourself continuously; both are pathological states.
The same is true about love and aloneness. Enjoy people because they are manifestations of God, but remember the other side is also there. So when you start feeling fed up there is no need to remain with people just out of politeness. Don’t try to be British — be authentic! It is very difficult not to be British, because we have always been told to be polite, to have certain manners, to follow a certain etiquette. Even if you are bored you go on smiling. Even if you don’t feel good with somebody you say, “It is a blessing to meet you,” and you are cursing them.
Why do you go on creating such strange splits in yourself? It is time — man has come of age — it is time to be authentic. When you are feeling good with somebody, say so and say it totally, and when you are not feeling good, then you can just say, “Excuse me….” I am not saying to be rude, but there is no need to suffer the presence of the other. Just say, “I would like to be alone, I would like my own space.”
Up to now this has not been possible. If you love somebody you cannot say, “I would like to have my own space.” This is sheer nonsense, inhuman! If you love somebody you should be sincere — that is the indication of love — you should be able to say, “Now I would like to have my own space.” And you should allow the other also the same freedom to be with you or not to be with you.It is good if two persons agree to be together for a time; it is beautiful. But it is also good to be alone. Aloneness will give you peace, silence, equanimity, meditativeness, awareness, a sense of integrity, centering, rootedness, groundedness — all these are great values. And love will help you to learn compassion, prayer, service — they are also great values, and they will enhance each other.That’s what I am doing here with my sannyasins — letting them enhance each other, letting them become backgrounds to each other. Let your love help your aloneness.
It is like…when you look at the sky in the day you will not see any stars. It is not that they have all died or disappeared or evaporated; they are still there, but the background of darkness is missing, that’s why you cannot see them.
The sky is always full of stars; day or night makes no difference, but in the night you can see the stars clearly. The darker the night, the brighter the stars look. They are not against each other; they are complementary, not contradictory. So are the inner and the outer world: the outer is part of the inner, Robert, just as the inner is part of the outer. They are like two wings — you cannot fly with one wing. Enjoy both, and don’t create any rift, don’t create any fight between them. Learn the art of being together AND of being alone. Hence my whole teaching consists of two words, “meditation” and “love.” Meditate so that you can feel immense silence, and love so that your life can become a song, a dance, a celebration. You will have to move between the two, and if you can move easily, if you can move without any effort, you have learned the greatest thing in life.God is both the creator and the creation — this infinite universe outside and this infinite consciousness inside. And he has to be tasted and known in both aspects.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Come, Come, Yet Again Come
Chapter title: Silence and Song meet
3 November 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘silence, witnessing, watching, awareness, Watcher on the Hill’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 1, 3, 6
- Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
- From Death to Deathlessness
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- From the False to the Truth
- The Hidden Harmony
- Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
- The Invitation
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- The Rebel
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2